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Jesus teaches in his hometown — Family faith formation @ home: July 4

Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs to teach and heal. Image by Paula Nash Giltner, CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

Welcome 

Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy to begin your time of learning together. 

One:    Come, let us gather around and see how the Spirit will nurture our faith today.

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Christ, the light of the world.
(Place a candle on a table in your gathering place and light it.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:   The Love of God, who came to meet us in the world.
(Place a cross on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Wisdom of God, who speaks through the Scriptures.
(Place an open Bible on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Grace of God, who proclaims we are children of God.
(Place a symbol of baptism – a bowl of water, a seashell – on a table in your gathering space.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Our risen Lord, who meets us at the table.
(Place a symbol of communion – a plate and cup, a loaf of bread, grapes – on a table in your gathering space.)

One:    We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading.

God sightings and prayer offerings 

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something — a person, community, experience, event, etc. – for which they want to offer prayer. 

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world. [Invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier.] We bring our prayers to you, prayers for… [invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier]. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Connecting with Scripture: Mark 6:1-6

Read the Scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

For the second reading of the text, divide the Scripture into parts and assign different people to read each part. You will need: a narrator, people in the crowd (can be 1 or several voices reading the “they” parts in verses 2-3 together) and Jesus.

Connecting through story

Watch as this wordless story, “Sidewalk Flowers,” unfolds — pay close attention to each scene.

  • What is the father doing?
  • Where is his attention?
  • What is the little girl doing?
  • What does she see and then do?
  • Who are the recipients of her gifts of flowers?

 

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • Why was Jesus teaching?
  • Why were the people surprised by Jesus’ teachings?
  • What do you think surprised them the most about Jesus and his teaching?
  • Where was the attention of the people (who were astonished by his teaching) focused?
  • Who did Jesus focus on in his ministry?
  • What did their comments communicate about what they thought of Jesus?
  • How did Jesus respond?
  • In what ways did their doubt and comments affect Jesus’ ministry?
  • Why do you think Jesus continued to do his ministry?
  • When have you felt like people didn’t pay attention to what you could do or doubted your abilities?
  • How did you react or respond?
  • When have you felt like others didn’t understand why you were doing things that were pleasing to God?
  • What kept you doing God’s work?
Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs to teach and heal. Image by Paula Nash Giltner, CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • Today’s text is one that can evoke an array of human emotions. It is a reminder that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. He experienced human emotions just as we do.
  • In this story, it is not Jews and Romans in general who are surprised by what Jesus can do. The “they” in the story are the people who grew up with and knew Jesus from his hometown — friends and family.
  • While their attention was elsewhere, Jesus emerged as a great prophet and teacher. He spread the Good News of God’s love and grace in new ways that were indeed astonishing. Some may have even found it upsetting because his message was not what they were used to hearing.
  • No matter what Jesus felt, he continued to do the work God gave him to do. He taught, he healed, he preached, he called disciples to follow him and he sent them out to spread the Good News. He did not let his emotions or the opinions of others stop him from being faithful.
  • Jesus paid attention to those whom others ignored or didn’t see — people who were without power, those who were poor or pushed aside, those considered “unimportant” — because to God everyone is important and valuable. Jesus saw them and treated them as if they were the most important and valuable.
  • It is not just Jesus who had work to do on behalf of God. God has given each of us an assignment — a ministry we are to do to continue Jesus’ work. We don’t have to do it alone. We are not supposed to do it alone. But sometimes people will not understand why we are doing

Invite each person to consider what work God has given them to do — what ministry they are called to continue on behalf of Jesus as they seek to be faithful. Think about how people might be surprised by their actions and how they/you might respond. Then roleplay each scenario and practice finding strength in God to continue the work even in the face of doubt.

Prayer

Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.

REBECCA DAVIS is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.

 

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